Those were the days, not so long ago
Maybe a few decades apart though,
Time when holdalls were strapped to roof-clamped carriers,
When travelling meant monstrous luggage,
When packed food was aromatic spicy home-cooked stuff, not healthy, fashionable caviar,
Those days of the entrenched duopoly of Fiat and Ambassador
When eight of us would pack into a car just to spend a lively, chatty, sunny day together…
The bonhomie, the camaraderie
The repeated visits to our favourite haunts, those landmarks of our shared psychogeography,
Time when games were structured around a fascinating mosaic of words,
Time when newspapers carried news,
Not the daily titillations of Page Three vanity
Time when we were not bombarded with views
When televisions didn’t exist to add fire to gossip, blood to news
Time when spontaneity ruled
And imagination sparked conversations…
Time when we were collectively convinced that a stimulating conversation was the highest form of intoxication.

The world has changed much now
Gone all topsy-turvy somehow….
Don’t get me wrong,
There are interactions galore
Yes, scores of friends on Facebook,
Sharing intimate details of what you do, where you go, what you cook
Insta stories have invaded the bedroom,
Just everyone is in a meeting on Zoom,
It is the visible, sensory, countable world that we inhabit,
Strangely, there are no conversations that brew any more….
The algorithm is our new guardian angel,
Privacy only a number code
Welcome aboard public domain, our new abode!

Every day ennui eats into me
Leaving me forlorn, hollow, empty,
Besieged by anxiety
Wistfully I remember the time gone by….
Time when life and conversations flowed,
Those murmurous summer afternoons
when we would measure out our life in coffee spoons…..
As the evening descends now and the stars shine
I itch for the company of a loved one,
For a rendezvous,
A charming revelation,
A candid chat, a tête-à-tête
Followed by a classic folie à deux
And a shared laugh that washes all my cares away.
Anyone for a conversation?
Anyone with spare time?
Please leave your devices outside….
There is no signal, no network here
No phone calls
No WhatsApps
No diversions
No distractions
On offer is a hot cup of tea,
Dipped in nostalgia, coloured with sepia-tinted memories
And some little delicious talk of
You and me.

Sangeeta Kampani, 62, worked with the IRS and retired as a Commissioner of Income Tax, Delhi.

Featured image: Commuters watch videos on their mobile phones as they travel in a suburban train in Mumbai. Photo: Reuters/Shailesh Andrade/File Photo